Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”
My three sisters, one brother and I were raised by a Mother and Father who were devoted to God and to the Catholic Church. We went to Catholic School and daily mass which was in Latin. The rosary, novenas and prayer during Lent were part of our normal life.
When I made my first Holy Communion, Jesus was so real to me. I felt when I received the body of Christ I was glowing from the inside.
Of course being in a large family had its problems. I was the middle child and did not conform to being “just like everyone else”. This distressed my parents and me as well. After awhile I began to believe that God, like my parents, was just waiting for me to do something wrong so he could punish me. He was no longer the loving Jesus of my first Holy Communion, He was an angry God.
Even so, I would never miss mass and did everything that was required of me. I used to say that I was good not because I wanted to be good, I was just too afraid to be anything else. In other words, I did what was expected of me. And, just like my mother, I married at 19 and began having my own 5 children
After 15 years of marriage my husband and I were both unhappy. We each thought the other one was responsible for the others happiness. We argued a lot and were in the place of polite silence. Unknown to us, our children knew we were in trouble and were afraid we were headed for divorce.
Our relationship was broken and it seemed like every time we tried to fix it, we just couldn’t do it.
Now, I want to tell you that God was always faithful. I would talk to God whenever I was in trouble or had a great need. He always helped me or got me through which always surprised and delighted me because I did not have a personal relationship with God.
I had decided to leave my husband and take all five children for a “visit” with my parents. Really, I did not know what I was going to do. The night before we left, I asked my husband if we could pray together and that maybe God would help us. He said, “Why should He, we have never done anything for Him”? God brought to my mind a scripture that I probably had heard at mass, I quoted it to Mike. saytin “I know somewhere in scripture it says that God has every hair on our head counted. I have been married to you for fifteen years and I have no idea how many hairs you have on your head and I don’t care, but He must care”. He reluctantly agreed and with less than the faith of a mustard seed, we prayed the Our Father together. We expected nothing and the next morning I left for my trip.
I was probably as depressed as a person could get as I traveled to my parents home. They were not going to take me in with 5 children and I knew that. I just wanted to get away from all the tension in our relationship.
My sister who lived nearby called me and invited me to a prayer meeting. I was very hesitant to go and if it had not been in a Catholic church I would never have gone.
When we entered the prayer meeting everyone was praying and singing praises to God. I didn’t understand what was happening but to me it sounded like angels. The entire two hours I cried and so did my sister. When the prayer was over I felt at peace for the first time since my first Communion.
I asked the people in charge of the prayer meeting if they had anything like this in the Dayton area and they said yes, at the University of Dayton.
In the past I had tried to read scripture and just couldn’t understand it. After just one prayer meeting I had a hunger to read scripture, and God opened my eyes and I understood. Everything I read thrilled me. The mass for me became a continual prayer of praise to God.
I went back home filled with the Holy Spirit. I did not know it yet but I was different. The Lord started working on me and my marriage immediately.
As married people we sometimes get into a negative routine. Being sarcastic was one of those things and just like a record the comments go the same way most every time. My husband approached me and make a sarcastic remark but this time I did not respond in kind. He would look at me and say, “What’s the matter with you”? I didn’t know it, but the Holy Spirit was changing my speech and I had no inclination to react in the same old way. I knew it wasn’t me doing it. When we would talk about anything serious my natural bent was to get up and leave the room. Now when we talked seriously I did not leave the roomagain my husband was baffled. And he said, “What’s wrong with you”? Little by little my marriage was changing, being healed and I really didn’t do anything. While we were barely speaking before I left, we now couldn’t wait to get together and talk. And we said I love you, over and over after months of never saying it.
When I returned home from my visit I wanted to ask my husband if he would go to a prayer meeting in Dayton. I didn’t for several reasons.
- I am the kind of spouse who would leave bible tracts around the house for him to see.
- I had all this Catholic education and he didn’t. He would think I was trying to be a superior catholic and make him feel bad.
- Wanting to please me he would do it but resent it because it was not his idea.
- He would feel I was leading him instead of him being the head of the house and responsible for the spiritual life of his family.
So, after a few months I thought this was a wonderful experience and God was healing my marriage so what more did I want?
Oone day a friend called me and read me a letter from her sister. She had attended a Lay Witness Mission in her Church and had gone down the aisle and given her heart to the Lord. While she was reading the tears of joy started pouring out of my eyes. I felt the Lord was telling me that this is real. Also the impression I received was that I could still reject the life he wanted for me but why would I want to do that? I knew I never wanted to go back to the way things were before.
After that call, I got up the courage to ask my husband if he would be interested in going to a prayer meeting at UD. He said, “I would love to”. I thought I was going to faint.
We started going and God gave him such a love of scripture that he moved quickly ahead of me and was able to teach scripture to me. He was now in leadership in our family and I felt his protection and love.
When I realized that God loved me with all my faults, I felt real joy. It is more than happiness. It comes up from the inside, from the heart. I never knew anyone could feel this way. This was what I had been searching for and not my husband , parents or any other human being could give me. It was wonderful and because of God's faithfulness, all of our children are Christians today.
In order to receive what God had planned for us, we had to come to the end of ourselves. We had to give up wanting to “do it our own way”. Being desperate we reached out to God with a small prayer. He was waiting for us. We came into the fullness of His life by our humble prayer.
His faithfulness to our parents who taught us the way to go and His love for each one of us.
My husband passed away 13 years ago and is in heaven waiting for me. My work is not finished yet. I have so far to go with the Lord. This testimony is not about the end but the beginning of a deeper spiritual life. God’s not finished with me yet.